Out the Door

Going to the gym and training by myself has presented me with a new obstacle to overcome. As I was driving to the gym this morning I realized that this “drag myself out the door” mentality was exactly the same thing I experienced back in my running days. Even though I looked forward to running and enjoyed the run itself, most days I would find myself struggling to get out the door; however, the moment I put on my shoes and shut the door behind me, my attitude flipped like a light switch and I was happy to be running. This is what I am currently experiencing whenever I need to go to the gym. I want to train. I am committed to training and won’t skip a session, but getting out of the house is a reluctant process. I’d like to think this will change in time as I grow more comfortable in my new gym surroundings and get to know the people there. And even if it doesn’t change, at least I know that I am focused, determined, and committed to doing what I need to do to reach my goals.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event: 195 x 5, 195 x 5, 195 x 5

Oh boy! So, I put my belt on beginning with my second warm up set. I generally wait longer to use my belt, but since the back has been achy for the past week I figured I’d play it safe. I was in the midst of my second working set, when I suddenly realized why the deadlifts were feeling so easy today…I had forgotten all about the deficit and was doing regular deadlifts! Oops! I considered sticking with the conventional for the final set but ultimately chose to grab a plate and get at least one set of deficits in. Definitely a difference with the deficit! Yet, I think they still felt better than they did last week, and the back was less irritated during the sets.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 15, 55 x 12, 55 x 10

These also felt better than last week!

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

105 lbs x 15, 105 x 8

Unlike last week, there was chalk in the box at the gym today, which meant I was able to maintain a solid grip for all of my deadlift reps. A solid grip helps make the reps feel easier…at least a little bit.

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds each, x 30, x 15

4b. barbell row

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12, 65 x 10

4c. glute bridge

30 lbs x 15, 30 x 15, 30 x 15


The Coached Becomes a Coach

Last week my daughter got herself a 3-month membership to a nearby community gym. Abby and her friends have decided to do this together, but not one of them knows a thing about going to a gym. My attempts to convince my daughter to make use of the facility’s staff went nowhere. Apparently there was an attractive young man working there the first day they went, and the girls were much too embarrassed/shy/awkward/whatever to ask him for help. This is part of the reason why I was roped into going with Abby to her new gym this afternoon. She would rather learn from me.

I suppose I should look at that as something to be proud of and encouraged by. It is a rare occurrence to hear my kids say that they are proud of me or any words of praise. As much as I hope that they are proud of me, one never truly knows, or at least I don’t. That’s insecurity at it’s best! But I can understand why my daughter would rather¬†learn¬†gym stuff from me than a stranger. We have a good relationship as mother/daughter, confidants, and friends. She knows how much I enjoy training and knows I care about what is best for her.

I do care about what is best for Abby, but I wasn’t confident about showing her the ropes at her gym. I am not a personal trainer or coach. It’s been a while since I was a beginner, long enough that my memory of those early days is hazy in terms of what I did. Quite simply, I doubt my ability to transfer training knowledge to someone else. I feel like I am not qualified, that I don’t know enough to even make an attempt. My coach is amazing, and I could never fill his shoes.

Despite my reluctance to take time out of my day to go to the gym with my daughter, I did. It was very weird to walk into a public gym without a clear plan of attack. How could I help Abby get started? I don’t use machines in my training, but I couldn’t really start Abby off with squats, deadlifts and bench pressing! Besides, I am not teacher/coach material! Somehow I muddled my way through. I showed her a few simple mobility moves as warm-up, then slowly took her through the circuit machines, carefully explaining proper form and precautions. After making our way through the machines, we ventured into the weight room. The squat rack was so enticing, at least for me, but I thought it best to leave it alone. My SI joint is still cranky and wasn’t even very comfortable sitting on the circuit machines for brief demonstrations, and I’d rather save my real efforts for my own training session tomorrow! Instead, I showed her how to use the cable machine for seated rows, lat pull downs, face pulls and triceps extensions. I showed her how to use the ab wheel and do knee raises and goblet squats. I gave her ideas for things to do for cardio during the circuit beyond the stair climber and bikes. I imparted wisdom on opening up the shoulders, lining up elbows under wrists, stopping if something didn’t feel right (as in actual pain and not mere ‘I don’t like this’ discomfort), neutral spine position and not twisting the head at weird angles, remembering to breathe, making sure her last rep is as good as the first, when to drop the weight and when to increase it or add reps. I wanted to show her how to use the TRX, but there was a young woman doing an entire work out in that itty-bitty space dedicated to the TRX and mobility stuff. I’m pretty sure she was camped out in that spot for the piece of full-length mirror, which is just another reason why I love my gym where I never need to stress over missing out on equipment or floor space due to someone’s vanity.

Despite my reluctance to go, it turns out the experience wasn’t so bad. I think I gave Abby enough information to feel somewhat comfortable and to begin, because starting is really the hardest step of all. I tease her all the time, but I love my girl and want the best for her. She might not get bitten by the iron bug the way that I did, but I’m proud of her for making the decision to go to a gym. Yes, she made the decision with friends, but she paid for her membership and is making the effort to learn and do. My reluctance has now given way to anticipation. Now I am hoping that she enjoys it enough to keep going, so that she will want me to come and show her how to use the free weights. I might even dream that she will want to put on a singlet one day…

A Bear in Winter

I have been considering this post all day, and I’m still no closer to knowing what to say or where exactly I want to go with it. As an introvert, keeping my thoughts and feelings bottled up is not only preferable, it is the norm. Ironically, as a blogger, I share more of my thoughts and feelings with the world than I ever would in verbal conversation with anyone outside of a very small circle of friends. and yet, there will always be a line that I am reluctant to cross even in my blog. Some thoughts, some feelings are just too intense, too personal, too dark to share.

Part of the problem is that I don’t like to appear weak, incompetent or incapable of anything, and so I’d rather just adjust my mask and pretend that everything is A-Okay in my world. Even when it’s not.

That sounds doom and gloomish, doesn’t it! Things aren’t quite so bad as that really, but my mood is most definitely low these past few days. I’m fine and then I’m not. I’m happy and then I want to cry. I want to sleep for days on end, but I’m not sleeping well. Either I am not hungry at all or I am stuffing my face with all sorts of garbage. Grumpy. Moody. White noise headaches. I hate the thought that I am slipping into depression, and I am scrabbling at the slippery slopes trying to fight my way back to the surface.

I will be okay, I know. This, whatever it is, is mild. It is a bump on the road. A storm cloud in the sky. While there are likely several factors causing this low mood, I believe that there is some relief in sight. Some stressors have recently been removed or reduced, and I have been talking with my coach about needing a physical challenge. There is more to the low mood than that, of course, but I know that I will be fine. It just really sucks to be feeling the way I feel and to be so sluggish and unmotivated when at home. At work or at the gym…I’m fine. I will be fine, but, in the meantime, I just want to hibernate like a bear for the winter.

Common Language

I have been thinking a lot lately about language, or more specifically about common language. The seed of thought was planted a few months ago while taking a leadership course for my old job. The term common language was used to describe terminology that is familiar to a group. Since I worked for Tim Horton’s at the time, common language included words and phrases that related to our business. Regular customers know what a double double is, yet a visitor from a foreign country would likely not understand. The course was about leadership and a portion of the course related to the importance of understanding one another, of having common language yet understanding that everyone might not speak that language.

When I began my new job in September, I was quickly reminded of the importance of sharing a common language, because I was suddenly in a position where I didn’t speak the same language as those I worked with and the customers I was serving. Although I had been a Starbucks customer for a while before working there, my knowledge of the Starbucks language was minimal and limited to what I really had to know to order my own coffee. The Starbucks vernacular was foreign to me and clashed with my 11 years of Tim Horton’s language. I felt lost and confused and I felt so out of place; this is why I have been thinking a lot about the importance of understanding and sharing language.

Language barriers don’t exist solely in a workplace.

When I first began working with my personal trainer, there was a great deal for me to learn. I learned how to move my body, and I began to learn the language of the gym environment. Although my knowledge is still far from complete, I know that not all of my friends share that knowledge.

Being a person of faith and having grown up in church environments, I am aware that I speak a language that might seem confusing to those who have no experience with the church at all.

I’ve even realized that my tattoo has the potential to be confusing. There is only one word within my tattoo: Ebenezer. While I chose Ebenezer because the word held tremendous meaning to me, the same word can mean something else entirely to another person. Some might think of Ebenezer Scrooge. A former co-worker’s mother might not have realized the full extent of the word, but she at least knew that there was religious significance to it.

A group came into my workplace last night. One of the guys presented me with his cell phone, showing me a photo of a cup with the markings of a Starbucks beverage. He apologized profusely, saying that this was what he wanted but he didn’t know how to translate the image into words. We laughed together. I warned him that I was a fairly new employee and then I looked at the picture. After a moment, I declared that I got it! The gentleman was amazed with my ease in deciphering the hieroglyphics in his picture, but I had the clarity to realize that I was feeling more confident and sure of this new language that I was learning.

It can be scary being thrust into a situation where you don’t speak the same language as everyone around you, regardless of whether you are in a foreign country, a new job, beginning a new hobby, or just have different experiences in life. It can be terrifyingly scary, overwhelming to the point of choking for breath; however, with the right amount of perseverance and time, you will discover that you have been breathing all along and you will speak a new language.


I am officially on holidays for 9, yes NINE days! My original plan wasn’t to take that many days off, but I am rather glad that I changed my mind. The original plan was to take New Year’s eve and New Year’s day off, because I was registered for the Resolution Run 5K. Then I wanted to take January 2 off, because I am having a little birthday party for myself. All told, with my regular days off, that would have totalled 5 days off. But my birthday is on January 4, a Monday-my earliest work day of the week. Did I really want to get up at 3:15 on my birthday? Not really! So I asked for that day off, too. Then I realized that my Friday actually falls on Tuesdays, so did I want to enjoy 6 days off, work one day and then have my regular weekend off? I could have, I suppose, but ultimately I decided that I would really rather not, and so, I have 9 days off work! I don’t believe that I have had so many consecutive days off work since roughly this time in 2012 due to a 6-week recovery from surgery.

Before Christmas, when my trainer said that he was putting me on mandatory “rest” until early in the new year, he pointed out that I have been training consistently and fairly hard for the past two years. I don’t think I have missed more than 2 consecutive training sessions since I began training. As much as I want to go to the gym and train, the rest will do my body good and I will come back fresh and possibly stronger! The same can likely be said for this time away from work.

I have enjoyed days off work over the past three years, but I don’t think I have taken more than 5 (maybe 6 once)¬†consecutive days off at a time. Most of those micro holidays have been days off with purpose, like a powerlifting or running event or simply a special occasion. I honestly cannot think of any time off over the past three years that has been for the sole purpose of being unplanned, unscripted and free! I don’t have a competition to attend. Yes, there is the Resolution Run; however, I won’t be running it this year, no matter how much I might wish I could. The only special occasion is my birthday, if one can call that a special occasion.

The next few days will likely be relaxed but busy with housework as I prepare for my birthday party, but the latter half of my days off are a blank slate of possibilities. I kind of like that. I could have a pyjama day! I could stay up as late as I want, sleep in as late as my body would allow. I could drink as much coffee as I want and spend the day running to the bathroom. I could have movie marathons: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings! I could play the Wii or read or do puzzles or write or go to the library or go for a run (just kidding!) I am almost giddy with excitement thinking about all the things that I could do but don’t have to do! It’s nice to have options. Although I am mostly a planner/organizer type person, sometimes it is liberating to just fly by the seat of your pants! At least for a few days…